Final Words & Conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
So who actually knows what a Fractal is? Yep if you lived through the 80ies and 90ies like yours truly on that Commodore 64 you'll likely have cycled through many Mandelbrot fractals. A fractal is a complicated natural phenomenon and a mathematical formula that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern. My favorite is actually the Hilbert Fractal ;)
The second part of the name is Design and yeah Fractal Design is all about a complicated intricate product with proper aesthetics. The Nano S meets these requirements as for a small from factor product in the ITX space is has to be one of the better looking products available in the market. ITX and small form factors are a growing trend ever since the motherboard manufacturers have embedded high-end chipsets onto their Mini ITX motherboards. That brings the fastest Core i7 processors into range as well as a high-end dedicated graphics card, all in a compact design. We like that. The Nano S isn't the smallest chassis though, at 40 cm an 27 liters is is a notch bigger, the advantage however is more room for even two radiators and thus liquid cooling, albeit somewhat limited.
The Fractal Design Nano S is a nice looking product that just lies easy on the eyes. You'll quickly fall in love with the matte black designed chassis and that dark front bezel. So yes, looks of the Nano S appeal to me, but looks always are a subjective thing of course. For an ITX based platform it however a fairly good size chassis for this model as you'll get access to plenty of features and plenty of cooling options
Features & Usage
You can fit six fans in the Nano S, the HDD / SSD mounting is handy with the ability to mount two 3.5" drives and two 2.5" drives. You could place one HDD at the front compartment, but we recommend you to install the bracket at the backside for better looks. You'll get two USB 3.0/3.1 ports, two expansion slots and support for even the larger of graphics cards which is unique for an ITX build. Do not install a card thicker than 2 slots though as you'll run out of clearance fast. The paint job is of good quality, the overall looks have that nice dark theme with small subtle white elements that are used by the two included fans. The chassis is reasonably tool free as well. You'll still be using the good old thumb-screws mostly - that works fine of course, but it's not as modern as some of the competition seem to be able to manage. We used a PSU that was like 18 cm instead of the required 16 cm, this hindered our cable routing a bit at the PSU location as we ran out of clearance. It did fit albeit barely, our fault though. That said, it would have been nicer to see the PUS and cables leading from it covered up with a compartment plate or something. it is the one spot that looks a little too busy on the eyes. Other then that, a good thing is that for a SFF tower there is decent enough of space to maneuver through at the inside, and cable routing options are there, but everything does feel a little minimal. Grommet holes for cable routing in the motherboard tray would have had my preference.
At a price tag of 69 USD / 75 EURO I think that Fractal Design offers a very nice balance of proper aesthetics combined with a very decent feature-set chassis. In terms of ITX usage, you can simple mount plenty of components even with some liquid cooling options available. There's plenty of fan mounts so ventilation will not be an issue. Missing is a fan controller. Especially with Mini ITX motherboards you will be limited in FAN mounts on the motherboard. Typically you'll get one for the CPU and one OPT or Chassis FAN connector. So with a liquid cooling solution that often require the CPU FAN header for the radiator fan and the OPT fan header for the pump, that's limited. It is easily solved with a y-cable FAN splitter, but your system fans would be tied to the RPM of the LCS radiator fans. This paragraph sounds more complicated then it really is, but herein lies the caveat of a missing fan controller and the challenge at hand. Features wise this Nano S is just fine and decent. Overall it is a sturdy build and the overall design is stylish enough for those that like it. In the end we can definitely recommend the product as there honestly is very little wrong with it. With an average price tag of almost 75 EUR, the Fractal Design Nano S feels balanced in terms of price / quality / looks and features. For the money you get a chassis with space, nice looks and a proper feature set. Definitely recommended.